Standard Interview Questions and Answers

Behind standard interview questions about handling difficult situations and conflict in the workplace there is usually a specific concern or requirement.

A candidate needs to think about what the interviewer’s concern might be:

  • Why is the interviewer asking you this specific question?
  • What is the interviewer looking for in your interview answer?
Legs of 4 job interview candidates seated and waiting in reception

These difficult situation and conflict interview questions are likely to be asked in some form or other during your interview. Be ready and use the interview answers to prepare for them.

Conflict occurs in virtually every work setting. Employers are looking for a person who can rise above conflict, challenges and problems and find win-win solutions.

How do you handle conflict at work?

The interviewer wants to know how you react to conflict and how you manage it. Try to focus your job interview answer on the behavioral process that you use to resolve the conflict.

Don't direct your answer at how difficult you boss or co-workers are and how hard it is to work with them. This portrays you as someone who does not get on easily with other people and employers want someone who gets on well with others.

Woman pulling the tie of colleague and choking him with the words "How do you handle conflict?"

Use your interview answer to highlight your interpersonal skills, your maturity and your ability to stay calm in the face of difficulty.

Sample interview answer:

"Everyone has to deal with conflict at some point. I have found that when there is conflict it helps to try and put yourself in the other person's shoes and understand their perspective.

It is important to ask questions and listen to their point of view. If you know what their interpretation of the situation is, then it is easier to work out a solution. For example.... (give a specific example of a conflict situation and how you dealt with it)."

Emphasize the techniques you use to diffuse conflict such as:

  • understanding the other person's position
  • asking questions to find out the cause of the conflict
  • not conveying blame
  • not becoming too emotional

Demonstrate your ability to work collaboratively to reach an acceptable resolution.

Here is another of those standard interview questions that is exploring a number of different aspects at once.

How did you handle a difficult situation at work?

This job interview question is trying to determine two things  -  what your definition of "difficult" is and how you approach challenges and problems.

In your interview answer:

  • avoid discussing difficult situations that were directly caused by you
  • make sure it is a situation that most people would consider difficult or tough
  • think of specific problems that tested your skills and abilities and had positive outcomes
  • highlight the way you analyzed the situation, the skills you used to professionally deal with it and your particular contribution to resolving it

Examples of difficult situations:

  • having to discipline an employee
  • unreasonable goals and deadlines
  • unreasonable customers and clients
  • adapting to change
  • awareness of unethical work practices

Job skills to highlight include:

  • analytical skills
  • perseverance
  • diplomacy
  • maturity
  • stress management
  • decision-making skills

Sample interview answer:

"I have faced a number of difficult situations, but the one that comes to mind now is ...( describe the situation). I was able to deal with it by assessing the situation, determining the possible different approaches and deciding on the most effective one.

I had to remain unemotional and objective and focused on a solution."

This typical interview question also evaluates your judgment and decision-making ability. Show how:

  • you were able to gather and consider all the facts of the situation
  • you were able to use your good judgment to make the right decision on how best to handle the situation

Good decisions are based on factual information.

Good general interview answer to "How did you handle a difficult situation?"

Sample text answer to "How did you handle a difficult situation?"

Preparing your answers to standard interview questions about challenges in the workplace sets you up for interview success.

Prepare for common interview questions using the excellent sample interview answers


Why should we hire you?


Can you tell me about yourself?


Why do you want to work here?


Your strengths and weaknesses?


What are your future goals ?


Your greatest achievement?

Behavioral standard interview questions and answers

Behavioral interview questions are now standard interview questions. Prepare for these type of questions by going to the sample behavioral or competency-based interview questions with answer guidelines at answers to behavioral interview questions

Typical interview questions and answers

These typical interview questions explore your motivation, what you like and dislike in your job and why you want to leave. This provides the employer with an indication of your attitude to your job and company and any challenges you have to deal with.

Be ready for other tough interview questions

Phone Standard Interview Questions

Second Interview Questions

Have good interview answers prepared for standard interview questions and convince the interviewer of your suitability for the job opportunity.

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